What a whirlwind weekend. Sometimes it’ll get to Sunday night and I’ll be scratching around for Notebook items of substance.
This week it’s the complete opposite. There was actually too much happening to fit in one Notebook.
So we have a bumper edition looking at as much as possible, with one extra note – there’ll be a standalone post on Port Adelaide coming Tuesday morning.
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Here are all the details and how to sign up.
Appreciating Ed Langdon
Just in case it wasn’t obvious to any regular readers, I have a soft spot for hard running wingers and all they provide for a team’s structure.
Ed Langdon is an invaluable piece of Melbourne’s midfield brigade. Three rounds in, he’s yet to spend any time off the field; the only non-key position Demon to achieve the feat.
It’s an enormous effort for a winger to play 100 percent game time once, let alone in three consecutive weeks, speaking both to Langdon’s skill set and his enormous importance.
Since Langdon arrived at Melbourne, he’s played 44 of a possible 45 games. He’s only dipped below 90 percent game time on eight occasions, playing more than 95 percent in a further 20 matches.
The peace of mind to know Langdon is there, week in, week out doing all the little things without fuss, it must be such a confidence boost for Melbourne’s system.
There are so many examples which could be highlighted to show what Langdon does consistently, coaches probably get a kick out of watching his review tapes. Let’s stick to just the one from Friday night:
The efforts aren’t always as easy to see as this, but regardless he’s crucial to what Melbourne want to do.
For those who have missed any posts over the last few days, here are links where to catch up:
Sunday 3rd: North’s Round 3 Review
Friday 1st: What To Watch For: Round 3
Monday 28th: From The Notebook: Round 2
Monday 28th: North’s Round 2 Review
The second half: Collingwood v Geelong
After Collingwood’s Round 1 win, I said this on Twitter:
“Collingwood’s high defence is fuuuuuun. The whiplash between when they got it right last night v the perfectly normal growing pains was violent. Great for neutrals though.”
If Round 1’s whiplash was violent, what does that make a nine goal to three third quarter, immediately followed by seven goals to zero the opposite direction to finish?
Post-match, Tom Stewart summed up Collingwood’s style quite simply:
“Collingwood are very similar to Richmond of the golden era. Get the ball forward, get after it and high pressure. They were really impressive tonight.”
Tell me this passage of play isn’t Richmond in black and white stripes:
The intriguing part is Collingwood have now played three games against teams at varying levels. All of them, for better and worse, were at their preferred tempo from siren to siren.
Normally when a side implements a new game style, down periods come from when opponents change the pace, pulling it onto the terms they want to see.
It wasn’t the case on Saturday night, although in this particular case it’s tricky to read how much of it was due to how Geelong are trying to play in 2022.
While we’re on the topic of Collingwood = Richmond, last year I had a piece detailing how Geelong looked to stretch Richmond’s defence and play in between the lines.
Funnily enough, there were a lot of similarities to that night in the Cats’ last quarter comeback on Saturday, but at a much quicker speed than we’re used to from them.
Look at Geelong’s spread of players in this clip, how deep Tom Hawkins and Sam De Koning are, and the room it allows Mark Blicavs’ lead.
There were also moments which would have given Chris Scott a heart attack in previous years, like 50 metre kicks straight through the centre square to an area they’re outnumbered.
But it all came together on the bigger spaces of the MCG, for a game each team should walk away enthused from.
Both sides have Brisbane in the next fortnight – Geelong in Round 4 at GMHBA, Collingwood in Round 5 at the Gabba – and it’s going to reveal a hell of a lot on how their respective styles will hold up across all conditions and venues.
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Richmond’s level revealed
In pre-season, my top-line question for Richmond was how long it would take for the ‘reveal’, i.e. when we’d find their level.
Three weeks in and we’re just about there. The Tigers are still capable of moments, they still have the infrastructure to challenge most sides.
There were two excellent quarters against Carlton, they were able to control proceedings against GWS, and they were four goals up halfway through the third against St Kilda.
The key is when sides are willing to move the ball for four quarters, it’s going to be a struggle for Richmond to maintain the rage throughout. There isn’t enough juice left in key planks to fight it out consistently.
|Richmond’s fourth quarters||Round 1 v Carlton||Round 3 v St Kilda|
|Score||-40 (1.1.7 to 7.5.47)||-37 (1.0.6 to 7.1.43)|
Hopefully this isn’t interpreted as a bash session because it’s not even necessarily a bad thing. It’s just the natural way of things on the other side of a dynasty.
There’ll be some weeks this year where everyone is all, ‘Richmond! That was extraordinary! They’re back!’. There’ll be other times where the reaction is, ‘Richmond? What’s wrong with them? They’re so cooked.’
The average of it all will likely be somewhere in mid-table, depending on player availability. One thing’s for sure – Richmond’s games are going to be a nightmare to tip.